unity

Charlie & Raheem

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Hi. How are you? Happy September. Sorry, it’s been a while, but I want to get this thing going again.

This past weekend, while stopping in to grab a drink at a Starbucks in Baltimore, my son Charlie met a little boy named Raheem. Raheem came in with his mother who was covered head to toe, only revealing her eyes. Instantly, I saw how different we were from Raheem and his mother. Our race, our religion, our backgrounds were so far removed…

But Charlie saw Raheem and nothing else.

He saw him purely and within two minutes of meeting they were dancing together right in the middle of a busy Starbucks. Charlie called him friend because Charlie doesn’t see race or religion or background… No walls, no barriers. He just sees Raheem.

And there I sat watching in awe as my 22-month-old son reminded me that all of my judgements and pre-conceived notions prevent me from seeing all people the way I used to… as friend.

Here’s to being more open to the “other.” And here’s to a life where everyone in your world doesn’t look and sound exactly like you.

Enjoy today,
Jeff M.
@thisjeffmartin
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What is my purpose?

A Letter from the Future…

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How are you? Life is good here. Don’t worry, Trump doesn’t become president and the Bills eventually make the playoffs. Just wanted to encourage you and challenge you and remind you about a few things.

So I know you work really hard to maintain your friendships, but only a few will stand the test of time. Keep investing in the people in your life. Enjoy your friendships now because there’s a season for everything. And don’t beat yourself up when friendships fade and change.

Spend more time with your family. They’re the ones who stick with you in the end. They’re the ones who know who you really are and continue to cheer you on and show you grace. Be present with them. Time flies. Don’t stare at your phone so much. Look them in the eyes instead. And cherish this time.

Looking back, I’m surprised how many young people live to point out all of the things that are wrong with the world when there’s so much to enjoy. Don’t waste time being critical, and don’t waste time with critical people. Their negative energy will drain you and take your focus off of what matters. Instead, spend your days breathing life into others. Don’t save those live-giving words for someone’s funeral when you could change their life today.

Your purpose is not found in your paycheck. Don’t expect to be completely fulfilled in any career. That longing is for heaven and can’t be attained here on earth. Work hard. Love the people you work with and stop putting so much emphasis on finding the “perfect” career.

Continue to be generous. It turns out that having tons of stuff becomes less and less important as time goes by. Share your time and be more generous with your money and resources. If we don’t care for the poor, we’re missing a critical piece of the gospel.

I know you innocently spent so much of your 20s and 30s trying to prove yourself… making sure people knew about your talent, successes, random knowledge and progressive beliefs… I’d say spend less time proving yourself. Spend more time listening. Spend more time learning from those around you. And spend more time being where you are and loving who you’re with.

What I really want to say is: Enjoy today.

Much love,

Future Jeff
@thisjeffmartin
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Let's be honest

Make Me Look Good Please

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Hi.

Becky, could you just please look your best at ALL times so that I feel better about myself? Please exercise, eat better, dress nicer and spend more time on Pinterest so that people are impressed with me, you and our house. Could you try to become a better hostess and cook larger, more impressive meals so that we could be that awesome and hospitable couple? Also, could you try to be about 20-30% more extroverted? One last thing, could you hang out with all of the moms more often so you know the latest trends in parenting? After all, if you’re a better mom, I look like a better dad. WE can do this!

Charlie, can you pull it together, man? Can you stop acting like a 17-month-old and be excited/happy to see and be held by every person who wants to hold you? It’s not that hard. If you’d just stop acting like such a typical baby, people would think I’m raising the perfect, socialized, well-adjusted child. Listen, just don’t be so shy; go with the flow. People will be so impressed with US if you get over your childish ways.

Worship team, please practice more. When you practice more, it makes me look like a great and capable leader. It makes our church look and sound super polished. When you sound great, I sound great and it makes people feel like they’re easily able to experience the presence of God. C’mon guys, make me look good please.

Mom and Dad, if you could just act more… Actually, I have a script for you. Check this out. If you could especially make me look good in front of these people over here. Be cool. Don’t talk too much… Wait, maybe talk a little more. Make sure to bring up my successful band days and how great my concerts were. That will impress them. No, No, NO… don’t act like that. Don’t be yourselves… please follow the script!

I’m guilty of wanting the people in my life to make me look better. I hope that they can make up for the areas where I clearly lack. Selfishly, I want them to come across a certain way so that I’m perceived a different way by YOU. I want YOU to be impressed with me and, as a result, I often set wildly unrealistic expectations for the people closest to me… and it’s not fair.

Today, I want to allow these people, the ones who are my world, to be perfectly themselves. Just like me, they also need grace upon grace upon grace. Take it easy on each other 😃

Jeff M.
@thisjeffmartin
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Let's be honest

You Don’t Have To Hide

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It’s in our DNA to hide. It’s natural for us to hide our flaws and quirks and insecurities and addictions and bitterness and depression and motives and doubts.

But we ALL struggle; we ALL carry so much.

What if we stopped hiding? What if we were more honest about who we are?

I think we’d be surprised to discover our shared problems and anxieties and pain.

This blog is part of my decision to be open. Every week, I intentionally make room for processing my life/relationships/decisions/work/faith… and I’ve found that so many of you can relate.

Let’s drop the act. Let’s be vulnerable and stop pretending we have it all together. Let’s move beyond the surface.

I have a feeling we’ll feel more united and have more grace for one another as we open up about this crazy journey we’re on.

Here are a few of my confessions:

I want to be everything to everyone. I’m too busy. I want to be acknowledged. I want you to be impressed with me. I want to make a big difference, but I don’t want to give up my comfort. I’m critical of others. I really don’t understand why you’re always late, but I’m trying to have more grace. I struggle with relating to people who love guns and “making America great again,” but I want to do a better job of actually getting to know you. I’m anxious about my aging parents’ health. Sometimes I’m jealous of my friends successes which prevents me from cheering them on. Sometimes I look for trouble on Netflix. I have tons of doubts and questions about my faith. I want to appear like a great dad and husband, but at times I’m wildly selfish.

True growth and change begins with honesty. By admitting our flaws, we take the first step toward change.

Keep it real,

Jeff M.
@thisjeffmartin
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What is my purpose?

I… I… I’m me / You are You

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Hi.

You are YOU for a reason. This is your purpose… to be you.

I’ve spent time trying to be someone else.
I’ve spent time trying to blend in.
I’ve spent time trying too hard to standout.
I’ve spent time being jealous of others.
I’ve spent time focusing on my weaknesses.

I’ve spent time wishing my days away.

And then I remembered that I was created by God. The creator of the universe made me the way I am to love, write, sing, laugh, talk, listen, think and see the world in only the way I can.

In the days when you are tempted to dream of a life other than your own, stop. Yes, there is always room to grow and explore and change, and we should do those things. But, in the process, don’t forget that you were created to be you.

Cheer on your family/friends for what makes them THEM. And hang on to the family/friends who are cheering you on. Take it easy on yourself. Take it easy on each other. All is grace.

Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his (Psalm 100:3).

Jeff M.
@thisjeffmartin
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Faith and Doubt

I Doubt It

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In the Church, it seems like we really tiptoe around the subject of doubt. We only want to showcase our strengths. No “real” Christian can have questions. No solid faith has room for weakness. And certainly no one who serves or leads at church can have doubts, right?

That’s just untrue… “Doubt is not the opposite of faith; it is an element of it (Tillich).”

I actually believe that our faith is strengthened by questions. I think it’s ok to realize that we will never know all of the answers. And I believe that we could have more honest/sincere dialogue with one another if we weren’t so conditioned to bury our doubts. I believe we could help each other grow if we were more vulnerable and open.

Just because you’re a follower of Jesus, doesn’t mean you have to turn your brain off. And just because you’re a Christian in 2016, doesn’t mean you should have it all figured out. I don’t want to serve or believe in a God that I’m able to figure out. That’s silly. After all, God’s ways are not our ways and his thoughts are higher than our thoughts (Isaiah 55).

I know so many people who have walked away from their faith because “it just didn’t add up” or “it no longer made enough sense.” I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty sure that what Christians believe is far from rational; there is a deep sense of mystery that surrounds our faith. Embrace it. Don’t hide from it. Wrestle with the tough questions. Search. Doubt… But keep seeking Christ.

Lord, I believe. Help me in my unbelief. -Mark 9:24

Enjoy today.
Jeff M.
@thisjeffmartin
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Looking Back

I can’t go back to yesterday because I was a different person then

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Hi.

When I was 8, I screamed “Jesus Christ, my name is Jeff Martin” over a slight misunderstanding regarding another student named Jeff. This all took place in 2nd grade in my super conservative Christian school… Thanks Mrs. Swain for your kind discipline.

When I was 14, I really wanted to go to my first ska concert at Showplace Theatre. I believe the band was Mustard Plug? My dad said I was still a bit young for this particular venue. I’m sure he also didn’t think “mustard plug” sounded like a very trustworthy group. Regardless, I was truly furious. Thanks mom and dad for loving/guiding me through my angsty teen years.

When I was 17, I was an absolute disaster in school (my nickname was actually Goof)… Kicked out of the library for a full year, countless Saturday detentions and several trips to the In-school-suspension room :/ Thanks to my teachers for still believing in me and pushing me.

When I was 23, I was in a band (this day & age) that started to tour and become known. After being signed and playing to larger crowds, I eventually became pretty impressed with myself. Take a look at my hair in 2004; that’s all the proof you’ll need. Thanks to my bandmates and friends for overlooking my inflated ego.

When I was 26, I just moved to a new state and wanted people to know what I brought to the table. I was impatient with the process of building trust. Thanks to my church friends for accepting me and allowing me time to adjust.

When I was 29, I went into teaching for a couple years. Without a doubt this was the most stressed and anxious I’ve ever been; I felt unsettled day and night. Thanks to my wife for putting up with me and yet still supporting and encouraging me.

When I was 31, I took a new job at my church, and I wanted to make my presence known. Initially, I put progress and productivity over people. I’m sure I was a bit overbearing. Thanks to everyone on my team for your grace and serving with such humility.

And now I’m 33… and I really don’t have much perspective on 33-year-old Jeff. Thanks for meeting me where I’m at. This is who I am. All of my experiences, mistakes and relationships have shaped me. Thanks for looking past my flaws and insecurities and quirks.

Life is about gratitude, growth, perspective and grace. Most of us have blindspots that we’re not completely aware of. It’s possible that many of us might look back on our former selves with shame. Instead, let’s focus on who we’re becoming.

Take it easy on each other. Take time to reflect. We’re all learning as we go. We all need grace.

And from his fullness we have all received,  grace upon grace. (John 1:16)

Enjoy today,
Jeff M.
@thisjeffmartin
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